Scientists demand cumulative assessment of 3 proposed projects in Goa’s protected area
The letter has been written after the Government of Goa appointed the WII to carry out a study
Following the citizen protests against the three infrastructural projects proposed in Goa's Mollem National Park and Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, 160 scientists and academicians have written to the director of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to conduct a study of the cumulative environmental impacts of all three projects within the single protected area. The letter has been written after the Government of Goa appointed the WII to carry out a study to prescribe mitigation measures for the double-tracking of the railway line, one of the three projects. The other two projects are the widening of the highway and laying of a new LILO transmission line.
“It is a given that these three projects will have a range of potential effects on the local ecology also have considerable spatial overlap, and are essentially connected to each other in function and mitigation measures cannot be effectively suggested without first studying cumulative impacts,” states the letter written by these scientists. While the proposed study for mitigation measures is only related to one of the three projects, scientists have emphasised that it is necessary that the cumulative impact of all three projects is studied to provide a more realistic picture to the stakeholders involved.
The letter also highlights a reviewed critique of the existing Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports for all the three projects that have been submitted by a collective of 31 scientists with extensive expertise in various relevant fields to a peer-reviewed journal. “As authors, we point out that some of the prescribed impact mitigation measures lack enough detail to be taken up and implemented correctly and effectively. Through this manuscript, we wish to bring to your kind attention the lacunae pointed out in the existing reports and the need for cumulative impact study not only within the three projects in Mollem NP and Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, but also across the adjacent forests of Goa and Karnataka,” the letter adds.
Kids& youngsters in #Goa took it to streets on Children's day for their forests & future threatened due to the Coal obsessed policy makers..— Tanmay V.S🌈🌴 (@tanmay_shinde99) November 15, 2020
Dancing with placards in their hands to #SaveMollem national park & Bhagwan Mahavir wildlife sanctuary.@deespeak@goacm@RichaChadha pic.twitter.com/KIcSl9E82D
The scientists write that the concerned area has marked as an Ecologically Sensitive Area by the Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel that was appointed by the Environment Ministry, and is part of a Biodiversity Hotspot. This protected area is also home to Schedule-I and Schedule-II species such as the tiger (Panthera tigris), gaur (Bos gaurus) and Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), etc. Also, several highly endemic species like two dragonfly species (Idionyx gomantakensis and Cyclogomphus flavoannulatus) and the reclusive ant Parasyscia indica are found in the areas of the proposed projects.
The projects have been seeing a rising protest from the people of Goa, who are concerned that the protests will destroy the biodiversity-rich protected area of the state. Under the banner of Goyant Kollso Naka (We don’t want coal in Goa), people recently conducted a midnight candle march and protest. Children also participated in the protests that were held on Children's Day, after which, the Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that it was not possible to stop the infrastructural projects of the Centre, but tried to assure that the forests would not be destroyed.